Ingress (game)

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Ingress Logo.png
Developer(s)Niantic Labs
Platform(s)Android, iOS[1]
Release date(s)Closed beta began November 15, 2012
Ongoing open beta began October 30, 2013
General release: December 15, 2013[2]
iOS Release: 2014[1]
Genre(s)Augmented Reality, MMOG
DistributionDigital distribution
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Ingress Logo.png
Developer(s)Niantic Labs
Platform(s)Android, iOS[1]
Release date(s)Closed beta began November 15, 2012
Ongoing open beta began October 30, 2013
General release: December 15, 2013[2]
iOS Release: 2014[1]
Genre(s)Augmented Reality, MMOG
DistributionDigital distribution

Ingress is a near-real time augmented reality[3] massively multiplayer online pervasive game created by Niantic Labs, a start up within Google, currently for Android devices,[4] but expected to be available for Apple's iOS in 2014.[1] The game has a complex science fiction back story with a continuous open narrative.[5][6]

The gameplay consists of establishing "portals" at places of public art, landmarks, cenotaphs, etc., and linking them to create virtual triangular fields over geographic areas. Progress in the game is measured by the number of Mind Units, i.e. people, nominally controlled by each faction (as illustrated on the Intel Map).[7][8] The necessary links between portals may range from meters to kilometers, or to hundreds of kilometers in operations of considerable logistical complexity.[9] International links and fields are not uncommon, as Ingress has attracted an enthusiastic following in cities worldwide[10] amongst both young and old,[11] to the extent that the gameplay is itself a lifestyle for some, including tattoos.[2][12][13]


The game makers' framing device for the game is as follows: Earth has been seeded with “Exotic Matter,” or XM, associated with the Shapers, a mysterious phenomenon or alien race which is neither described nor seen (and which thus functions as a MacGuffin). The in-universe motivation for the Enlightened faction is their belief that the Shapers are working toward a powerful enlightenment which will uplift all mankind. The Resistance believes that it is protecting humanity from Shaper ingression.[14] The factions have, however, been occasionally observed to ignore the back-story and to co-operate for the sake of real-life gameplay and game balance, for example by establishing neutral zones and rules of engagement.[15]

The screenshot of the Intel Map at right shows the state of play in and around Seattle, Washington, on December 2, 2012. Virtual portals (octagons with spokes) and control fields (colored spaces) overlay a map of real geographical and civic space via Google Maps; green represents the Enlightened faction, and blue the Resistance. The space controlled by the two factions is fairly evenly matched here.


State of Ingress play near Seattle, Washington, on December 2, 2012

A player using the mobile app is presented with a map representing the area nearby. The map has a black background while only roads are represented in grey and the entire map is completely unmarked. Visible on the map are portals, Exotic Matter, links, control fields, portals, and items that have been dropped from a player's inventory.

Players must be physically near objects on the map to interact with them. The mobile client represents the player as a small arrow in the center of a 40-meter oval which represents the perimeter within which direct interaction is possible.

Players are rewarded with AP (Action Points)[16] for actions within the game. Accumulating AP beyond certain thresholds grants you higher access level i.e. access to stronger items. The access levels are number 1 through 8 with 8 being the highest as of March 2014.[16] Niantic Labs announced that they will introduce missions and higher levels to the game.[17]


In the game, the earth has a large number of “Portals”, made visible by the "scanner" (the mobile phone game app). They are colored green, blue, or grey, depending on whether they are controlled by the Enlightened, the Resistance, or currently unclaimed. A portal with no resonators is unclaimed; to claim a portal for a faction, a player deploys at least one resonator on it. If a portal is claimed by the enemy, the player must first neutralize it by destroying the opponents' resonators and mods by firing "weapons" called XMP ("eXotic Matter Pulse") Bursters. In the lore, XM comes in two polarities, and the XM polarity of one faction annihilates the other.

A portal may be equipped with up to eight "resonators" from one faction. Resonators have levels, ranging from L1 to L8. A player can deploy resonators only up to his or her own level, and there are rules about how many of each level an individual can deploy.[18][19] The game mechanics reward teamwork by limiting the number of high-level resonators a single player can deploy; up to eight players working together can create a far higher-level portal than any one player can create individually.[20] Furthermore, resonators decay spontaneously over time, and must be recharged in order to maintain control of the portal. This can either be done on site, or remotely through the use of a portal key and XM reserves.

A portal may also be equipped with up to four modifications, or "mods." As of March 2014, there are six types of modification available: Shields, Force Amplifiers, Link Amplifiers, Multi-hack, Heat Sinks, and Turrets. These have effects such as making the portal more difficult to attack, increasing the intensity of the portal’s response to attackers, and increasing the yield of hacking the portal.[21] As of September 2013, an individual player may place up to 2 mods per portal.

Portals are typically associated with landmarks such as sculptures and other public art, libraries, post offices, memorials, places of worship, public transit hubs, buildings of historic and/or architectural significance, and other recreational or touristic features.[22] Players may submit requests for the creation of new portals,[23] and the number of portals has increased steadily over the lifetime of the game. The density of portals correlates with population density, thus the central portion of cities typically contains the highest concentration of portals.


Currently there are only two factions to choose from. The Enlightened fight believing their actions will uplift humanity, and bring about the next chapter in human evolution, while the Resistance believes in preserving what freedom humanity has left. The Resistance are represented by blue and the Enlightened are represented by green. Portals are either grey (unclaimed), blue, or green.[16]



A cross-faction portal hunt convenes in Washington, D.C., by the Smithsonian Castle on April 14, 2013.

Ingress was released in closed beta on November 15, 2012,[8][26][27][28] with an accompanying online viral marketing campaign. The latter was noticed as early as November 8, and other, earlier publicity efforts have been noted at events such as San Diego's Comic Con on July 12, 2012.[29] Google employees had been testing the game for at least six months. Ingress has exited beta and is available for download on Google's Play Store.[30] According to Alex Dalenberg of American City Business Journals, as of May 2013 there were about 500,000 players globally.[31] In an interview in August 2013 with the fan site Decode Ingress, Niantic Labs founder John Hanke said "There have been over 1M downloads and a large chunk of those are active."[32] Speaking with CNN, he said he didn't expect players to start talking to each other and forming clubs.[33] The game has received local media coverage,[34] and some players have attracted the attention of law enforcement, and hence commentary on the interaction of augmented reality games with real life.[35][36][37]

The factions at MIT arranged a campus-wide truce after the death of Sean Collier, an MIT police officer shot by the suspects in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and placed their two respective portals side-by-side in a virtual cenotaph at the site of his death.[38] On 1 September 2013, players in Israel, Cyprus, Turkey and Romania created a field which was dedicated to the memory of those who had died in the Struma disaster of February 1942 (an international endeavour which was itself named Operation Struma), making the field a virtual cenotaph.[39]

Similarity to Shadow Cities[edit]

The basic idea of Ingress is very similar to the older augmented reality game, Shadow Cities.[citation needed] Both have two factions which are fighting for the future of the world with smart phones. The games have similar game mechanics and look-and-feel .[40] There are clear differences, however. In the Shadow Cities players are in the virtual world which is dynamically mapped around them and player can teleport in virtual world, whereas in Ingress the portals are real world locations such that players always have to actually move to play.[41]


  1. ^ a b c Brandon Badger reported to AllThingsD
  2. ^ a b Announcement on Google Plus
  3. ^ Nathan Ingraham (November 15, 2012). "Google's 'Ingress' augmented reality game puts Android users into a battle against worldwide mind control". The Verge. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Ingress". Niantic Labs. Retrieved November 15, 2012. 
  5. ^ "What is this "Niantic Project"? Posting what I find here.".  - An "in universe" web site by the in-game character Henry Richard Loeb aka P. A. Chapeau (a play on the French for "tin foil hat") - on hiatus as of October 1, 2013
    "Niantic Project".  - Continuation after October 1, 2013 by a second in-game character with two pseudonyms: first "X" and later "Verity Seke"
  6. ^ "Ingress Lore". 
  7. ^ "Initial Briefing - Ingress help". Niantic Labs. Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Gannes, Liz (November 15, 2012). "Google Launches Ingress, a Worldwide Mobile Alternate Reality Game". All Things D. Retrieved November 15, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Operation Aurora Australis". 
  10. ^ Benno Hansen (May 26, 2013). "Come bomb the Little Mermaid". Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  11. ^ Susan Richards (June 1, 2013). "Grandma plays Ingress". Pied Type. Retrieved Aug 27, 2013. 
  12. ^ Swey (Aug 9, 2013). "The Girl With The Ingress Tattoo". Retrieved Aug 27, 2013. 
  13. ^ Lexy Rochelle's Google+ site
  14. ^ "Faction Choice". Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  15. ^ "Greater Boise Ingress community on Google Plus". 
  16. ^ a b c Official Ingress Support's Vocabulary Briefing Glossary
  17. ^ Interview: Higher levels and missions for "Ingress" are coming
  18. ^ "Sven's Portal Calculator". Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  19. ^ "Ingress Field Guide's Portal Calculator". Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  20. ^ "Hack portals acquire items not so random". Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Portal Mods - Decode Ingress". Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  22. ^ "Candidate Portal criteria". Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  23. ^ "New Portal Submissions". Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  24. ^ Katy Townsend at IMDb - see "Other Works" section
  25. ^ Ingress Report at IMDb
  26. ^ Tracey Lien (15 November 2012). "Google launches Ingress, a mobile alternate reality game set in the real world". Polygon. 
  27. ^ Elisabeth Cardy (16 November 2012). "Introducing Ingress: The MMO by Google". Massively by Joystiq. 
  28. ^ "Ingress Preview, The Sphere of Weirdness explained.". IGN Australia. 
  29. ^ Andersen, Michael (November 12, 2012). "Google ARG Hints at Niantic Labs Conspiracy". Wired. Retrieved November 15, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Ingress: Android-apps on Google Play". Google Play. Retrieved 2012-11-16. 
  31. ^ Alex Dalenberg (May 24, 2013). "Ingress, Google's underground game, is being played all around you". Upstart Business Journal. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  32. ^ Andrea Di Simone (August 19, 2013). "Interview with Niantic’s John Hanke". Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  33. ^ Larry Frum (August 26, 2013). "At Google, apps to help discover (and conquer) the world around you". Retrieved August 26, 2013. 
  34. ^ :
  35. ^ "Augmented Reality Game Gets Player Arrested the First of Many", Read Write Web, 11 December 2012.
  36. ^ Reddit user "Eheaubaut" (28 Nov 2012). "So I got arrested.". Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  37. ^ Susan Richards (June 29, 2013). "Grandma playing Ingress stopped by cops". Pied Type. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  38. ^ Scott Kirsner (April 24, 2013). "In Google's Ingress augmented reality game, a ceasefire at MIT and a memorial to slain officer Sean Collier". Boston Globe. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  39. ^
  40. ^ Chris Priestman (November 27, 2012). "Google Accused Of "Blatantly" Ripping Off Grey Area Games’ Shadow Cities". Indiestatik. Retrieved December 14, 2013. 
  41. ^ Glen Tickle (January 15, 2013). "Inside Ingress, Google’s Augmented Reality Android Game". Indiestatik. Retrieved December 14, 2013. 

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